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In spite of freezing temperatures, the 10 horse Johnson outboard kicked off on the second pull. While the motor warmed up, I put the bird banding supply box in the aluminum Jon boat along with a pair of binoculars and a boat paddle. I pulled away from the dock and unscrewed the drain plug so the rainwater in the boat can drain once underway. Twisting the grip to full-throttle, I fly up Wapanocca Bayou flat out, breaking the thin sheet ice in front of me.

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The drive to refuge headquarters on the low-tide beach had been a pleasant one. After making a turn into the dunes on our entrance “road” into headquarters, I paused at the crest to enjoy the view. The vast Atlantic stretched to the Eastern horizon. Westward lay Back Bay Wildlife Refuge’s op…

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 Gale force winds are common in coastal areas, so when the winds picked up that afternoon, and continued all night, I didn’t think it all that much out of the ordinary. Just another northeaster, even if it was a strong one.

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Whenever Back Bay froze over, heavy winds or a thaw usually broke up the ice within a week or two. This freeze, however, turned out to be more tenacious.  It had lasted almost a month, and waterfowl were dying of starvation in substantial numbers.